The Sandcrabs won two games the past two seasons. Eight games into the 2019 season, the Sandcrabs have matched that total.
For Sara Swayze, volleyball is in the blood. It’s part of her family’s legacy.
Her father, Doug Swayze, was previously the head coach at Atlantic High School for several seasons, and her mother, Cara Swayze, is the longtime head coach at Spruce Creek High School, annually one of the top teams in the state.
Sara has played the game since she was 5 years old and was a member of Spruce Creek’s varsity team for four years under her mother’s guidance.
Everything she knows about the game she learned from her mom.
“I take something from every coach that I’ve been around,” Sara said. “But especially playing for your mom and having a household that’s literally only about volleyball, all my knowledge is from that.”
Sara — who, fresh out of college, was an assistant coach at New Smyrna Beach High School — was hired before the start of the 2019 season to be the head coach at Seabreeze.
The Sandcrabs failed to win a game last season.
Sara knew taking over the Sandcrabs’ program was going to be a difficult task.
“I didn’t really know what to expect,” she said. “But these girls are amazing and talented. When I first saw them, I knew things were going to be different this year. They just needed to be re-inspired to learn how to win again.”
The Sandcrabs opened the season with a sweep of Pine Ridge on Aug. 20 on the road. It was Seabreeze’s first victory since Oct. 14, 2017 (and the Sandcrabs won two total games that season, as well). And after falling behind 0-2, the Sandcrabs battled back to sink Matanzas in five sets on Sept. 12 on the Pirates' home floor.
Junior outside hitter Madison Long still remembers the pain of last season.
“It was really difficult,” she said. “We tried to keep our spirits up, but we couldn’t close. We just couldn’t win.”
Now, the Sandcrabs are finally tired of losing.
“Coach Swayze has been great,” Long said. “She knows when to sit down and make us come back on our own and want it on our own. That’s the only way we’re going to win.”
In her first season as a head coach, Sara hopes to inspire the Sandcrabs to aim higher — a thing she was used to at stout programs like Spruce Creek and New Smyrna Beach.
“I want to get people to love the game as much as I do and to show a school that isn’t really expected to win what they’re capable of,” the 22-year-old said. “It’s a totally different bar set at New Smyrna Beach and Spruce Creek. I want to set that bar here at Seabreeze.”